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Wreck Diving

My favorite Victorian shipwreck: The scuttled SS Coogee

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Agnes Milowka_diving wreck

Victoria's wrecks range from those that floundered in wild storms and bad weather to those more or less carefully scuttled, some have been shattered and broken up by the elements and others remain virtually intact. With over 800 shipwrecks recorded in Victoria it is a virtual playground for shipwreck lovers. But it is the SS Coogee that has become my sentimental favorite over the years. It is a truly beautiful wreck parts of which are blanketed by yellow zoathids, adding to its appeal and making it much loved by photographers. It has suffered the typical fate of many a steamship wreck on the bottom of the ocean, the remains of the bow, the stern and the boilers have remained prominent and largely intact while the rest of the ship has collapsed. Before it was scuttled in 1928, the Coogee had an exciting and reasonably long career despite being somewhat accident-prone.


Victoria’s J Class Submarines

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Agnes Milowka_diving J Class Submarine

Long before the Australian Navy willingly bought reject submarines (read Collins-class) from the US, we were the bearer of refuse from the distinguished Royal Navy. They managed to discard not just one but the whole class of their dilapidated subs after WWI, thus all six of them got shipped over to Australia on the 15th of July 1919. (We could have got all seven but the J6 was sunk by friendly fire in 1918) After spending a whole heap of money on fixing them up the subs had a less then eventful life down South, little of which was actually spent at sea. By January 1924 they were all decommissioned through no fault of their own, as the defense budget was slashed and the funds to upkeep the beasts dried up. A couple of years later they were all happily resting on the bottom of the ocean.

To give credit where it’s due, the subs were built under pressing conditions i.e. war and rumors that the Germans already developed far superior subs. Not only do they have the distinction of being the only triple screw submarines ever built, they were also the fastest subs at the time plummeting along at 19 knots on the surface and up to 9.5 knots submerged. And heck, they did see some hot and heavy action during the war, even destroying a number of enemy ships like the Grosser Kurfurst and the Magdeburg.



Field work with Flinders University: The search for the schooner Emu.

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Agnes Milowka_magnetometer survey

The 2007 Flinders Maritime Archaeology Field School was held at Victor Harbour on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. Victor Harbour and the surrounding area has been the center of early Australian and South Australian history so there was lots to survey, explore and get excited about. Re-live the exhilaration of the search for the remains of the schooner Emu, as our team completed a reconnaissance of Middleton Beach using a Geometrics magnetometer.


Today has to be put into perspective - the last three days the 'Green Machine' team has been slogging it out just to reach our survey site. The Star of Greece inconveniently wrecked 1.4km from the closest beach access, which for us meant 'death marches' dragging all our gear, including tanks and weights across the sandy beach. All worth the effort of course as it's a gorgeous little wreck, great fun to survey and with an interesting history to boot. You can tell my muscles are no longer sore and I can look at the bright side of things… at the time the team motto was 'we will forget the wreck… we won't forget the walk.' Given this, the idea of putting up our feet and taking a gentle stroll on the beach holding a magnetometer was most appealing.